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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - DUBAI: The sudden death of basketball legend Kobe Bryant in a helicopter crash on Monday has stirred fans around the world.
The player died after the private helicopter he was traveling in crashed, erupting in a ball of flames in Calabasas, California. His daughter Gianna, 13, was with him.
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there were no survivors, all eight passengers and the pilot died.
Arab fans from across the region took to social media accounts to mourn the death of the player.
“I couldn’t believe it, I thought it was all fake news. A couple of tears came out of my eyes… my heart was beating really quickly and my face turned red. Kobe was more than a basketball player to me, he was a real life superhero. He motivated me to give it my all with anything I do, he’s the main reason why I decided to play and watch basketball,” Journalism student at the American University of Sharjah Amro Eldahshoury told Arab News.
And posts calling Bryant a legend and offering condolences filled Twitter.
“Tomorrow is not granted, love each other today. Basketball legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi died in a helicopter crash… he has taught us a lot about work and doing what one loves,” Cofounder and CTO of MarkeetEx Sharifa Al-Barami tweeted on Monday.
Another NBA legend, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar mourned Bryant’s death and said he will remember him “as a man who was much more than an athlete.”
Celebrities with Arab descent or who are partly Arab took to Instagram.
Gigi and Bella Hadid posted images of the player, offering condolences to his wife over the loss of her husband and daughter and praying for the families of those affected by the crash.
Shanin Shaik, a model of Saudi descent, captioned an image of the player saying “Legends live forever.”
Another model of African-Arab roots, Imaan Hammam, also took to Instagram to honor Bryant. She urged people to value their blessings because of the fleeting nature of life.
But Bryant was also loved by people who were not even basketball fans.
“It shocked me. Kobe the basketball legend has died in a helicopter crash. It all just seemed so paradoxical. I was not that into basketball but I’ve always loved Kobe. I loved how humble he was. I loved his sense of humor and his kindheartednesses. Rest in peace legend, my heart goes out to his wife and kids,” AUS graduate Moza Al-Nabouda told Arab News.
Kobe Bryant played 20 years with the Los Angeles Lakers, before he retired in 2016. He was named NBA’s Most Valuable Player in 2008 and two-time NBA Finals MVP.
Bryant had two Olympic gold medals for men’s basketball.
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